“Education is a calling and it’s what we were called to do”

CHS9 Assistant principals recognizing education as their calling

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Pranati Kandi

CHS9 assistant principal Ashley Graham has been an AP for four years. As a University of Louisiana at Monroe graduate, Graham began in the medical field before eventually transitioning to the education field.

Anette Varghese , Staff Writer

CH9 assistant principals Ashley Graham and Nick Coenraad have been APs for four years. Both assistant principals saw themselves in different careers before eventually finding a role for themselves in education. 

Graham graduated from the University of Louisiana at Monroe with a degree in biology with her eyes set on being a physician. 

“I didn’t want to enter the education field at first,” Graham said.  “I started working in a hospital part-time and I just didn’t love it. After that, I got a job as a substitute at the [Ouachita Parish School Board in Louisiana]. I worked as a substitute in middle schools and high schools and I really loved it.I got alternatively certified and received my master’s in education.I learned the hard way that I didn’t want to be in medicine.”

Coenraad spent eight and a half years in the restaurant business after getting his anthropology degree from the University of Colorado in 2001. He was then inspired by his sister to go back to school and graduated from the Harvard Graduate School of Education as a part of the class of 2016. 

 “Teachers and assistant principals are able to impact kids every single day; it’s just the matter of the number of kids we impact,” Coenraad said. “As a teacher, I had my classroom of kids, being in elementary school I had about 25 to 30.As an assistant principal, I have an opportunity to impact in a normal year at least 1,000 kids and at CHS three times that.” 

Some of the graduating class of 2021 were part of  Coenraad’s second fifth grade class at Wilson Elementary School. He hopes to leave everyone he impacts with the same message, “Take time to listen and understand people, not just brush them off or disagree with them. Truly take time to get to know that person and understand their perspective.”

Graham thinks the foundation of working as an educator is relationship building. This is why she believes every interaction influences her relationships with the people around her. 

“One time at a training for educators I heard the keynote speaker say, ‘your legacy is not what you leave when you leave the earth it’s what you leave when you leave the room,’” Graham said. “ Every interaction matters, the small things matter. I hope that I’m being mindful of every interaction and every opportunity I have with individuals to help them grow and develop as people and also provide the support that they need to grow.” 

Coenraad and his family are firmly rooted in Coppell and he thinks because of this he can better serve the community.

“I live in this community, my wife is a Coppell High School graduate and my kids will go to CHS. I’m a parent and an employee of the district,” Coenraad said. “I love the fact that I’m able to build relationships at school and outside of school and that’s a special thing to me because I get to know parents and kids on a different level.  I have deep relationships [that are] something that’s really special to me being in this community and serving as an assistant principal.”

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